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Bass Hotels
consent decree

US Attorney General's
press release

Access-Able
Travel Source

Global Access

Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped

Travel Companions International

TravAble

Literate Traveler

 

Texas Commission for the Blind
consent decree

Handicapped Fishing Tournament

Accessible Ground Transportation Guide

Internets Links for Disabled (worldwide)

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Handicapped Travelers Win Oneno - it's not a hairpiece, just a bad haircut                      back to TTN home page
 by Joe Harkins - Jan 13, 99

    Disabled people usually have their home territory well mapped. Although it isn't a perfect situation, at least one usually knows beforehand which building has a ramp or doesn't. For the blind, the safest route in the neighborhood may have been mapped, sometimes with the help of friends. But few of those helps are available when a handicapped person travels beyond the familiar.

    The issue of how a handicapped traveler's needs are met in the USA is a matter of law.
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that places of public accommodation, such as hotels and motels, be accessible to persons with disabilities. Getting compliance with those laws has been a long struggle that finally seems to be coming to an end.

    It took a Federal law suit based on that law, settled a few days before Christmas 1998, to get the
Bass Hotels & Resorts, Inc., owner of 2,000 Holiday Inns, Staybridge Suites and Crowne Plazas, to agree to mend its ways, renovate facilities to make them accessible and establish procedures intended to bring the room reservation system into better compliance. If you lack time to read the detailed consent decree, the US Attorney General's press release summarizes it.

    Still, those legalistics, as welcome as they are, do not address the issue of recreation travel opportunities for special travelers. Nor do they deal with access issues outside the United States. Those are being addressed by perceptive travel agents, tour operators and others in the industry who realize that the money of those clients is just as green as anyone else's.

    The leading online information source on the subject of travel for the handicapped is Access-Able Travel Source. The easy to navigate site contains hundreds of pages and readily searched data bases of hotels, cruise lines, airlines etc, who have made sure their facilities are accessible.

    The FAQ section (Frequently Asked Questions) gives advice on how to deal with airlines, identifies which cruise ships have made special efforts to serve disabled clientele, and even covers such problems as traveling with oxygen bottles. The agent database contains almost three dozen around the world with experience in the field.

    Global Access is another site in the same service tradition but I can't help but hoping the site's owner can find a paying sponsor so that site can be moved off GeoCities. Those pop-up screens that come with the free web site are more annoying than they are worth.

    An organization devoted to the issues is the
Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped (SATH). The strong point of their web site is a set of guidelines for the travel industry on how to accommodate the market.

    Unfortunately, the SATH web site is not as well maintained as it might be. Press releases I looked at referred to events by month and date but not year. One release that is specific is confusing. A headline announces the January 6-10th, 1999 annual meeting in Ft. Lauderdale but the rest of the press release describes what will happen at the one
"which will take place January 7-11, 1998 in Miami Beach, Florida."

    Travel Companions International is a professional service that analyses an individual's travel goals and then provides the trained companion to facilitate them. Unfortunately, the web site is a surprisingly strange thing because it completely lacks a single email link for you to contact the company online. Truly strange.

    The archives of TravAble contain the message base of an online discussion group where limited travelers can exchange experiences and ask questions.

    Although the title of the Literate Traveler suggests it might be just a list of books, their page for Disabled Travel Resources is much more than that. Scroll down below the books and you'll find many highly valuable listings and links.

    Since I started this column with a report of a legal action that enforced the legal rights of the handicapped, you may be as bemused as I was in reading another. The Texas Commission for the Blind has signed a consent decree promising to end
discrimination against its own blind employees.   -30-

(note: depending on available space, the material below may or may not have been published in your local paper along with the above column.)

Additional Online Resources:

The Accessible Ground Transportation Guide

Internets Links for Disabled (worldwide)

Handicapped Fishing Tournament

Coast Resources (travel services)

Coast Resources (recreation equipment)

Ski Central / Disabled Skiing Directory

Able Informer (free newsletter for disabled travelers)


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